How to Talk to Your Medical Doctor About Natural Therapies

It’s an all-too-common dilemma: you want to share information with your medical doctor about the supplements and herbs you’ve been taking, but you hesitate. You’re concerned that he or she won’t condone them, or may even perceive you as a non-compliant patient. What should you do? How do you have a conversation about natural therapies you know are helping you–with someone who may try to convince you otherwise? Here are some easy-to-follow tips on how to hold your own in what could be a defining moment in your relationship with your medical doctor.

Natural Health Discussion with a Conventional Doc

1. Share your perspective
When you bring up the topic of supplements, be sure to tell your doctor that you use vitamins, minerals or herbs because they clearly improve your health and help you to feel better. It’s essential that he or she understands this right from the start.

2. Emphasize teamwork
Tell your doctor that you want to share information about what you’re taking because he or she is a valuable member of your health care team.

3. Don’t argue
If your doctor dismisses your attempts to share information, or tells you that it’s a waste of your money or time (perhaps suggesting that any gains are a matter of placebo effect), don’t try to change his or her attitude. Just say “Thank you, I appreciate your opinion.” You don’t need to try to convince your doctor that what you’re doing is good for you.

Many medical doctors have already made up their minds about natural remedies, and their opinions are unlikely to change because of your experience. If your doctor is unable to accept the validity of your experience, or refuses to treat you because you’re exploring natural remedies, find a more enlightened health care provider – one who is open to you being an active player in your own health care.

4. Provide information
If your doctor seems open to further dialogue about the supplements or herbs you’re taking, it’s a good idea to provide a written list of products you’re taking and why you’re taking them. Include doses, how long you’ve been using them, and whether or not they were prescribed by another licensed physician such as a naturopathic doctor or a chiropractor. Tell your doctor that you’d like to have this document placed in your medical chart.

Talking to your medical doctor about the natural supplements you’re taking could create a better relationship and improve communication. Remember that even though a medical doctor’s education doesn’t typically provide adequate training in natural medicine, there can be drug-nutrient and drug-herb interactions, so it’s a good idea to let your doctor know what you take in order to avoid side effects.

But always keep in mind that you’re the one who ultimately directs your health care team. You decide who is on your team, and you have the ability to choose which kinds of medicine create the best health for you.

Dr. Laurie Steelsmith

Laurie Steelsmith, ND, LAc, is a naturopathic physician and licensed acupuncturist who specializes in women’s health. She is the co-author of Great Sex, Naturally: Every Woman’s Guide to Enhancing Her Sexuality Through the Secrets of Natural Medicineand co-author ofNatural Choices for Women’s Health: How the Secrets of Natural and Chinese Medicine Can Create a Lifetime of Wellness. Visit her website at www.DrSteelsmith.com.

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About Dr. Laurie Steelsmith

Laurie Steelsmith, ND, LAc, is a naturopathic physician and licensed acupuncturist who specializes in women’s health. She is the co-author of Great Sex, Naturally: Every Woman’s Guide to Enhancing Her Sexuality Through the Secrets of Natural Medicine and co-author of Natural Choices for Women’s Health: How the Secrets of Natural and Chinese Medicine Can Create a Lifetime of Wellness. Visit her website at www.DrSteelsmith.com.

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